Friday, December 17, 2010


From the first days of fist-grab and chew, to the endless delight of pop-them-in-half, to the never-ending joy of peeling away each infinitesimal bit of paper from the smooth, waxy crayons, all the way to now---a conserving and a respect which call for the lining-up-and-keeping in the tiny lunchbox from Aunt Kim and Uncle Mike---the days of childish things are evolving.

And order---despite the still-scrawling, WAY-outside-the-lines artistic license of our little one, she’s learning the order of things. Smooth rainbow rows precede most coloring sessions, and sometimes they are the entire endeavor itself, those lined-up pastels and darks and exotically named “Macaroni and Cheese” oranges and fanciful blues.

I think so, myself, for I, too, was a conservator of coloring and writing tools, even at her age. A new box of EIGHT was a treasure, and once I played at the house of a friend who had THIRTY-TWO. I bought my own first box of Sixty-Four when I had my own children, and I shared it lavishly with those small hands still in the crack-and-bite stage, for who knows what childish dreams are made that way?

And a new #2 Ticonderoga and First-Day-Of-School’s virginal tablet---bliss, and you wouldn’t see me or get my attention for days. I wrote and wrote, scribbling little plays and stories and poems. There’s an order in that, as much as in the tidy ranks of the color-lines, for the putting down of thoughts gets things into their places.

I need order, today, I think, more than anything else. I need to attend to, or at least decrease, the pile of laundry which seems to have been my only saving grace in these days of a houseful of sickness. It was simple to sort, toss in, start the rush of water, pour in the detergent and lower the lid, imagining the hardships of this kind of cold on a washday of even my Mammaw’s time---I was fifteen when she got her new house, all modern and bright, a small five-room little haven with the washer right there in the big bathroom, Queen a Sheba convenient as all get-out.

The drying was still done in the outdoors, Winter and Summer---the long lines stretched between trees and FruitHouse, the adjunct to the chickenhouse, and repository of all the canned goods, stored things, discarded things, might-need-someday things, and whatever other saved-ups still hung around for decades in those days before Goodwill.

The lines of sheets were so beautiful out there in the green, blowing white in the wind, and the scent of the Rinso (“Like Washing with Sunshine!”) floating over into the little area of my outdoor kitchen where I turned out the most elegant mud-pies, was like the puff of perfume from my Mother’s dresser drawer.
Sis just said yesterday that her Italy trip holds memories of clotheslines everywhere, hanging from windows and balconies and rooftops, all the daily personals of the family flapping right out there in the sun, and visible in the same camera frame as the Vatican, the Doge’s Palace, the canals, the rolling hills of Tuscany. And that, too, is an order of things, carried on for centuries, and likely to live forever. I hope so.

I’m thankful to be IN, and to HAVE these clean things, cluttered as the rooms are becoming with stacks and sorts. And order there will be. Slow and sure, though this tortoise falters now and again, still a bit weak and trembly from the tempest, and reaching for the red Jello and a break now and again.

So, back to the washer, to fill and load, and to heed the dryer’s hum, and then the snap and fold of towels, shirts, pants. There’s even a sermon in sorting socks, if we just heed the words.


Chesapeake said...

Oh, Rachel, Sweetpea's shirt went beautifully with your words and the crayons.

It's amazing how clothes shed wrinkles if put on a hanger just before dry, and seem to get a nice outdoorsy scent even inside.

Glad you're better. Keep hanging in there!

Denise :) said...

Wonderful post -- you expressed it so eloquently! :)

sparrowgrass said...

I love, love, love hanging my clothes out. I have a drier, and often have to use it, because hanging outdoors is a little difficult when you work fulltime, but if the sun is out on a Saturday, the sheets are on the line.

And crawling into a freshly made, sunshine scented bed after a long day--nothing is better!

mustard seeds said...

I wish I still had a clothesline. I loved the post about the crayons. Jackson stores his in a metal lunchbox, too. I remember how proud I was when I started a new school year with the 64 box and it had a sharpener in the back!

Southern Lady said...

Oh, Rachel ... I wish I could express how much I loved this post as eloquently as you wrote it. The more I read about your childhood, the more I feel a bond with you. I loved getting a new box of crayons and new tablets and those little pencil boxes we had back then when we went back to school in the Fall. And, like your little Sweetpea, everything had to be in order.

And what fond memories you brought back of clotheslines ... my mama's, and grandmama's, and the neighbors'. Those were the days, my friend ... and we thought they'd never end, didn't we!

Southern Lady said...

P.S. -- I hope you continue to feel better!

Marlene said...

Rachel, this is one of my very favorite posts...all about order, beauty in a simple box of crayons (8 pack) "back in the day." And of course those clotheslines of our childhoods. I loved the little dimple on Sweetpea's precious hand...a good place for kisses!

Tonja said...

What promises lie in that new box of crayons! What will jump out of the box and be captured on paper forever? I can remember that when I got a box of 64 WITH aa built in eraser...I was Queen of the Color Box! I have a very old box that was used for I don't know what, BUT it has many little cubbies within. Here I store colored pencils, markers,, sharpies...other, fabric pens, etc. And, even though I am not a person who craves oreder in most things, seeing these all together, each in its own cubby home, is bliss!

LV said...

I truly got a blast out of visiting your blog today. I enjoyed you story on the crayons. I am like you, I may not like doing laundry, but certainly do not want to hang my laundry out like in Italy.

Jeanne said...

Hi Rachel, I am glad you are up to doing some laundry at least. Being ill is not fun.

Your story of crayons is so charming. A budding artist and writer even then. Your laundry stories are charming as well and it brought back memories of my days of hanging countless diapers on the line. Also the time when Bill was in college in North Fl. We were newly married and renting a house while he finished college. It was cold (freezing) one morning and my clothes froze on the line. I was amazed that they dried. I had to call my mother about the strange event and she assured me they would dry. When I had my fifth child I insisted on getting a drier. Bill kept saying ok right up until the due date. I finally said in no uncertain terms. NOW!!! My most wonderful appliance was delivered in two days. Oh happy day. I guess there is some wonder about clothes on the line but I wonder why! Smile.

I would dearly love to sit and visit with you Rachel. Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. Then really talk. I think we both have lots to say.

Christmas is almost here. Wishing you Merry Christmas blessings.
Hugs, Jeanne

Kim Shook said...

Another epic post, my friend! Your words are beyond beautiful, as always. I so admire the way that you wend your way from the Babygirl's crayon rainbow to the traditions of Italy to re-establishing order after your tribulations. And all tied together with the ribbon of order. You are my hero, Rachel!